On New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma, Sarah McKinley shot an armed intruder to death, while the accomplice to the break-in fled. Last week it was announced that Ms. McKinley will not face charges for the shooting, while the surviving accomplice was charged with first-degree murder.
How would the same situation have played out in New Jersey? To know that, the differences in the laws of the two states must be explored. First, let’s address the states’ respective defense of property laws. In Oklahoma, a person is entitled to use deadly force if the person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling or residence.
In New Jersey, unlawful entry alone is not enough to draw a gun. The use of deadly force is only justifiable if the person against whom the force is used is attempting to dispossess him of his dwelling unlawfully, or if that person is attempting to commit or consummate arson, burglary, robbery or other criminal theft or property destruction. In addition, the intruder must have employed or threatened deadly force against or in the presence of the actor; or the use of force other than deadly force to terminate or prevent the commission or the consummation of the crime would expose the actor or another in his presence to substantial danger of bodily harm.
So when Ms. McKinley called 911 and asked the operator whether she could shoot the intruder, it was a fairly easy question to answer in Oklahoma. The operator told her to do what she needs to do to protect her baby, and turns out she was right. It was an intruder breaking into her house, so that was enough. It turns out that he was armed, so it probably would have been okay in New Jersey, but the operator would have had to ask at a least one more question before giving that same reply here.
Timothy Farrow, of Dash Farrow, LLP, is an experienced criminal defense attorney and former Prosecutor who handles these offenses and crimes, misdemeanors, and traffic offense of all levels. When you need experienced, focused, and responsive legal help, call Dash Farrow, LLP at 856-235-8300 or contact us online at www.dashfarrowlaw.com. We serve individuals and businesses throughout Burlington and Camden County and all of South Jersey.